The whole day went by and Jun smiled through it, but everyone could tell it was his, "I'm smiling because normally I like you," expression; at sixteen--seventeen, now--Jun was prone to fits of melodrama that only ingrained politeness kept out of his words. His face he had a harder time controlling, with features that are still too big and mobile for his skull. (His sister has always said, teasingly: "You're funny looking now, little brother, but don't worry. You'll get everyone later." He wanted it to be later now.)
After dinner, he went up to his room with one of the four books his parents had given him. He chose to start with the thickest, the one that looked like it might be the more boring; he could involve himself in it and then fall asleep and no longer think about Aiba so blithely brushing him off.
It didn't work, though. The author had a knack with historical fiction, and Jun found himself absorbed, waving his mother away when she came by to say goodnight. His cell phone rang, surprising him; the clock read 11:58.
He answered it, thinking already of how he could tell whomever off for calling so late: "Hello?"
Jun would know that voice anywhere, with that bright tone. "Aiba-chan?" He scolded himself for smiling so easily at it; he was angry at Aiba, really!
"Jun," Aiba said on the other end, sounding somehow out of breath; Jun can hear people talking in the distance. "Happy birthday!"
"Oh," Jun said. He sat up on his bed, feeling suddenly warm. It wasn't a bad feeling. "Thanks."
"I'm sorry I couldn't be there today," Aiba said, and Jun imagined the perfectly earnest expression that Aiba would have on his face. "It was a family obligation, or I would have cancelled. But happy birthday! I have a present to give you tomorrow!"
How was it possible for someone to be so overwhelming even on the phone? "Well," Jun started. It was somehow unfair for Aiba to be so--cute, and well-intentioned, and generally Aiba-like; it made it difficult for Jun to be angry at him. "I hope it's a good one."
"I think you'll like it!" Even Aiba's grins were plain from his voice. "Ah--I have to go."
Jun couldn't keep the disappointment hidden. "That's all I get?"
"I will be seeing you tomorrow, Matsujun," Aiba said, faintly scolding. "I just wanted to call--and make sure that you knew I hadn't forgotten! And that you know I'm glad you were born."
Jun was struck dumb; he's not sure anyone but his mom had ever said anything like that to him before.
"Anyway. See you!"
Jun heard his phone disconnect and thought, Only Aiba-chan.
He fell asleep feeling baffled but strangely contented.